For years, this sign has been on my painting hit list. Finally, on an absurdly hot and windy pair of April Days in Vegas — it went down, and it was weird.
Somehow I was able to snap this picture with nobody in front of the sign — a rarity. Particularly on our first day of
smok painting went down on 4/20/2011. Holla Gilbert!
It isn’t just about the paint, sometimes, you have to take a minute to “Welcome Baby” — a necessary Ari Lankin thumbs up. After the jump, the full process of Vegas painting number one, Ari’s fabulous painting, and many of the stories along the way.
Getting down with a quick sketch on the shrink wrap… the artist equivalent to…
Briefly adding some lime to solidify the composition.
Collaging a healthy mix of New York Post headlines and escort advertisements. My friend Ahmad and his wife stopped by just in time to see this layer… I am sure she was impressed with Ahmad’s twisted pal from back in the day.
Taking a break, Elvis stepped in.
You can’t tell by the pictures, but the wind and heat were nearly unbearable. Thus, I decided to apply the initial paint with gel medium, to “get it wet” if you will. Paint was drying between the palette and the canvas (a distance of 12″).
Starting to get nice with the dense outlines. At this stage, I decided on a hybrid collage painting, similar to this Central Park Special:
Sheep Meadow with George Steinbrenner Keeping an Eye on Things.
Starting to fill in the foreground.
Elvis getting down with a pack of Vegas lovers.
It was time to revert to OG tactics, with a round of Sharpie detailing. I also began adding more headlines.
You can’t hear it (obviously), but there were cars honking at the sign in both directions. When you are painting, and a semi roars by at sixty leaning on the horn, well, it can bring back ominous flashes of Large Marge.
It’s a nice day for a… 4/20 wedding.
Back and ready to go on day two.
Beginning to define more details, both on the sign and in the background. This one took a minute to swing into focus.
To the right is our new favorite Los Angeles/Vegas painting pal, Jerry Shawback. He showed up on day one asking to join us, which he did, every day for the rest of the trip. Jerry was a perfect addition.
Splashing blues and greens in the backdrop… here, I decided to leave the cove of trees to the left of Mandalay Bay more abstract.
Beginning to make some sense of a rather chaotic foreground.
As Lil Wayne says at the beginning of most verses: “Uh”.
The drop-shadow added for “Welcome” was stiff, too dark. So, I had to pull it back.
Yes. That’s more like it. Here is the final painting in context.
And presto! The Welcome to Las Vegas Nevada sign, painted at long last.
Check out Ari Lankin’s Welcome Sign painting process, along with some entertaining photos and stories.
Up next, two harrowing days in original Vegas… Fremont Street, and the El Cortez Hotel.